Glossary - Appendices - Creative flash photography : great lighting with small flashes: 40 flash workshops (2014)

Creative flash photography : great lighting with small flashes: 40 flash workshops (2014)

Part III. Appendices

Appendix D. Glossary

5-in-1 or 7-in-1 reflector: A collapsible reflector, usually circular, with two sides and interchangeable coverings (silver, gold, white, black, zebra stripe, etc.).

AF: Autofocus

ambient light: The available light that illuminates a scene.

American night: Lighting technique used in movies that involves underexposure to make daytime look like night. Named after La nuit américaine, a film by François Truffaut that first popularized the effect (this technique is also known as day for night).

Aperture: The opening in a camera lens through which light enters the camera.

Aperture priority: Auto exposure mode in which the photographer sets the aperture and the camera automatically selects the appropriate exposure time. Called Av mode on Canon cameras and A mode on Nikon cameras.

APS: Advanced Photo System. A film and sensor format. Nikon uses the similar DX format. See also DX; APS-C.

APS-C: Advanced Photo System Classic. A film and sensor format that is 22.5 x 15.0 mm, used in midrange Canon DSLRs. See also APS; DSLR.

Auto FP mode: Abbreviation for Automatic Focal Plane Sync Mode, Nikon’s name for high-speed sync. See also high-speed sync.

automatic white balance: White balance setting that is automatically selected by the camera.

AWB: See automatic white balance.

bare-bulb flash: A flash fitted with a completely uncovered flash tube (for details: Internet search “bare bulb flash hack”).

bare flash: A flash used with no additional light modifiers.

barn doors: Large metal light modifiers, usually with four adjustable leaves, that alter the horizontal or vertical modulation of flash light.

beauty dish: Light modifier that consists of a parabolic shade with a built-in reflector that blocks the direct transmission of light. Used to produce soft, high-contrast lighting effects with strong core shadows and soft main shadows.

BFT: See black foamie thing.

bidirectional lighting: Portrait lighting technique also known as double-kicker or pincer light. The setup includes two symmetrically placed lights on either side of the subject to accentuate the cheekbones and temples.

black foamie thing: A small shade, or flag, mounted on a flash to prevent light from directly illuminating the subject. Invented by Neil van Niekerk.

blinkies: Blinking overexposure warning lights on a digital camera monitor display.

bokeh: English spelling of the Japanese word that means blurry or fuzzy. Used to describe the blur effects (and their aesthetic qualities) that occur, for example, around out-of-focus points of light in photographic images.

boom stick: Slang for a handheld monopod.

bounce flash: Flash reflected off a surface to improve the diffuseness and angle of the light. Also known as indirect flash.

bracket: See flash bracket.

broad lighting: Portrait lighting technique that lights only the side of the subject’s face that is facing the camera. See also short lighting.

brolly: See umbrella.

brolly box: Combination silvercoated reflector/diffuser umbrella that functions like a circular softbox.

catch light: A light source that causes a specular highlight in the subject’s eye.

clamshell lighting: Portrait lighting technique that uses two softboxes positioned close to the subject’s face to light it from above and below.

click: An increment of a setting (usually 1/3 EV) that can be made with a camera control dial or button. A click can pertain to exposure time, aperture, ISO value, flash output, and so forth. See also exposure value.

CLS: Creative Lighting System. Brand name for the Nikon TTL flash system.

cold shoe: Mount for system flash without electrical contacts (unlike a hot shoe). See also system flash; hot shoe.

color clash: Colors that seems to collide rather than harmonize.

critical aperture: The aperture that provides the best compromise between optical aberrations and diffraction blur. This is an absolute value at which a single plane is in sharp focus. It often lies 2 or 3 stops below the maximum aperture. The values for a range of popular lenses can be found online at SLRgear (

crop sensor: Sensor format that is approximately half the size of a full-frame sensor. Usually APS-C (Canon) or DX format (Nikon). See also APS-C; DX.

cross light: Lighting style with two lights that cross at the subject, such as one from the front right and one from the back left. The second (minor) light often acts as a rim light or kicker. See also rim light; kicker.

CTB: Color temperature blue

CTO: Color temperature orange

CTS: Color temperature straw

custom white balance: Manually defined white balance value.

CWB: See custom white balance.

dark field lighting: Lighting that grazes the subject at a very shallow angle to accentuate embossing, scratches, etched patterns, and so forth.

day for night: See American night.

dragging the shutter: Flash technique that artificially increases the exposure time to include more ambient light in the image.

DSLR: Digital single-lens reflex (SLR) camera. See also SLR.

DX: Nikon proprietary term for its 24mm x 16mm sensor format (almost identical in size to the Canon APS-C format).

EC: See exposure compensation.


EV: Exposure value.

EXIF: Exchangeable image file format. Data format for saving additional information (date, camera type, aperture, copyright, etc.) in digital image files.

exposure compensation: User-defined value to fine-tune automatically selected exposure parameters.

exposure value: Exposure value (EV) is a unit that describes the amount of light required to make a photographic exposure. An EV is defined by a combination of exposure parameters, all of which produce the same overall exposure (see appendix A).

FE Lock: Flash Exposure Lock. Canon proprietary term for spot flash meter reading saved to the camera’s memory to allow the photographer to recompose a shot while retaining the same flash exposure parameters.

FEC: See flash exposure compensation.

flag: Light modifying accessory used to prevent light from illuminating a subject directly.

flare: Lens flare, which is mostly an unwanted artifact caused by backlit aperture blades.

flash bracket: General term for any kind of bracket used to mount, swivel, aim, or otherwise direct single or multiple flashes.

flash exposure compensation: User-defined value that alters automatically selected flash exposure parameters.

flash gun: See system flash.

foam core fork: Lighting accessory for holding Styrofoam boards. Mounts on standard light stands or a tripod.

Focal Plane Sync: Canon term for high-speed sync. See also high-speed sync.

focus and recompose: Focusing technique that involves locking the focus and then reframing to shoot.

focus stacking: Macro photography technique that merges multiple images shot with different focus settings to form a single image with an enhanced depth of field. Dedicated focus stacking programs include Helicon Focus and CombineZM. Focus stacking can also be performed with Photoshop tools.

focusing rail: Adjustable camera mount that is used for focus stacking. It enables the user to move the whole camera back and forth to change the focus, without changing the image ratio.

FV Lock: Flash Value Lock. Nikon equivalent of Canon Flash Exposure Lock. See also FE Lock.

FX: Nikon proprietary term for its full-frame (24mm x 36mm) image sensors.

gaffer tape: Universally useful black or gray strong, cloth tape. Originally from the theater and event sectors.

gang light: Relatively new term in the strobist scene. Describes the use of multiple system flashes combined to form a single powerful light source. Often combined with high-speed sync (HSS) mode and thus is technically more refined than conventional studio flash. See also high-speed sync.

gel: Color filter that was originally made of gelatin (hence the name) and is now made of plastic. Often used in the colors CTO, CTB, and CTS. Examples of usage: full CTO gel is full-strength orange filter; 1/2 CTB is half-strength blue filter. See also CTO; CTB; CTS.

GN: See guide number.

gobo: Comes from go between or graphical optical black out, depending on which source you believe. Made of metal or etched glass and used to project patterns onto surfaces via a gobo projector (like a slide projector but more powerful). Used to produce studio backgrounds and for advertising photography.

gray filter: See neutral density filter.

grid: Also known as honeycomb grid. Accessory used to concentrate the light from a flash or lamp.

guide number: The maximum distance at which a flash can illuminate a subject at given ISO and aperture settings. This range is equal to the product of the flash-to-subject distance and the aperture required to expose the subject correctly at that distance.

hair light: Portrait light from above and behind that is used to give the subject’s hair additional luster.

high key: See key.

high-speed sync: Flash mode for system flash that allows photographers to use flash at exposure times shorter than the camera’s designated flash sync speed. High-speed sync (HSS) flash consists of a pulsed sequence of very short flashes that give the impression of continuous light. The major disadvantage is a significant reduction in maximum flash output. See also system flash.

hot shoe: Mechanical mount for system flash with electrical contacts. A non-TTL hot shoe has two contacts (for firing the flash), whereas a TTL hot shoe has five or more contacts for transmitting data between the camera and the flash. See also system flash; cold shoe.

HSS: See high-speed sync.

inverse square law: The intensity of light emanating from a point diminishes proportionally to the square of the distance between the source and the object it illuminates. Halving the distance to the subject quadruples the intensity of the light that illuminates it.

IR: Infrared

i-TTL: See TTL.

joule (J): See watt-second.

key: The basic mood of the light in an image. Most of the tones in a low-key image come from the dark end of the tonal scale, whereas most of the tones in a high-key image come from the light end.

key shifting: Technique used to artificially shift the key of an image. See also key.

key light: Lamp that determines the key of an image. Synonymous with main light. See also key.

kicker: An accessory portrait light used either to accentuate cheekbones or as a general effect or accent light, such as a rim light or a hair light. See also rim light; hair light.

LED: Light emitting diode

live view: Camera mode that displays a continuous real-time view of the scene on the camera monitor.

loop lighting: Similar to Rembrandt lighting, but set at a shallower angle (approximately 30 degrees), thus producing softer shadows. See also Rembrandt lighting.

low key: See key.

macro rig: General term for accessories that assist macro photography. Consists of any or all of the following components: camera, extension tubes, flash bracket, one or more flash units, and focus rail. See also flash bracket.

master flash: Flash unit that transmits firing signals or flash exposure parameters to slave flash units. See also slave.

meter and recompose: Photographic technique that involves saving an exposure meter reading for a scene in the camera’s memory prior to reframing the subject and shooting. Often used with spot metering.

modeling flash: See modeling light (here, a fast burst of flash impulses simulate a continuous light).

modeling light: Additional continuous light built into studio flash units. Used to simulate the effect of flash to help the photographer judge the effects a lighting setup will produce [or in the case of flash exposures; Flash Exposure Lock (Canon) or FV Lock (Nikon)].

mood shot: A photo that conveys a message by evoking emotions rather than by providing information.

ND filter: See neutral density filter.

neutral density filter: Filter used to extend the maximum potential exposure time—for example, to blur the movement of water captured in daylight or to make flash exposures at wide apertures.

octabox: Eight-sided softbox.

on location: Urban or rural photographic environment (i.e., outside of the studio).

optical cell: Sensor element in an optical servo flash trigger or remotely controllable flash unit. See also servo flash trigger.

optical slave: Optical servo flash trigger. See also servo flash trigger.

optimum aperture: The aperture that provides the best compromise between depth of field and diffraction blur.

overexposure warning: Blinking warning displayed on the camera monitor for potentially overexposed image areas.

PAR reflector: Parabolic reflector. See also parabolic reflector.

parabolic reflector: Light modifier with a parabolic cross section.

PC socket: Prontor-Compur flash connector socket as defined by the ISO 519 standard.

pilot button: Button built into most system flashes that illuminates when the flash is fully charged. It can be pressed to manually fire a test flash at the current settings.

PocketWizard: Radio flash trigger brand name. Some models are compatible with TTL and high-speed sync. See also TTL; high-speed sync.

popup flash: Low-power flash unit that is built into many digital cameras and pops up when needed.

Porty: Brand name of battery-powered portable studio flash units made by Hensel (Germany). Often used as a generic term to describe similar units from other manufacturers.

Porty look: A specific look associated with photos shot on location using a Porty system, which often includes a dark, underexposed sky. The effect can be created only with system flash in weak ambient light, because of the system’s relatively low output. See also Porty.

preflash off: Setting for a servo flash trigger that suppresses the TTL preflash. See also servo flash trigger; TTL.

pseudo-HSS: Also known as Super-Sync, hypersync, ODS (overdrive sync), or early sync. A technique that uses the entire duration of a flash to circumvent the limitations of slow X-sync synchronization speeds (see workshop 4). See also X-sync.

red eye reduction: Technology that uses a short preflash to widen a subject’s pupils and thus prevent red eyes in the image.

Rembrandt lighting: Classic portrait lighting setup usually positioned at 45 degrees (horizontally and vertically) to the subject. Produces a relatively prominent nose shadow and a triangular highlight beneath the subject’s eye.

remote: See slave.

retro adapter: Also known as reversing ring. Accessory that allows a lens to be mounted in a reverse position to facilitate extreme enlargement. Available in passive and active versions. Active adapters (the Novoflex EOS-RETRO, for example) transmit aperture data to and from the camera.

reverse mount: See retro adapter.

reversing ring: See retro adapter.

RF: Radio frequency

RF trigger: Radio control module used to fire flash remotely. The transmitter unit is mounted on the camera, and the receiver is mounted on the flash.

rig: See macro rig.

rim light: Light used in portrait situations to accentuate the outline of the subject and differentiate the subject from the background.

Scheimpflug principle: A geometric rule that describes the orientation of the plane of focus in an optical system when the lens plane is not parallel to the image plane. The application of the principle allows the construction of lenses that can be tilted. They are used to deliberately alter the location of the plane of focus in an image.

second-curtain sync: The point in the shutter timing, at which the second curtain is only just open and still allows time for the flash to be fired. This flash technique produces more believable results for moving subjects.

servo flash trigger: Small accessory module that receives optical firing signals transmitted by system and studio flash units. Often built into the flash unit, but also available separately.

servo, optical: See servo flash trigger.

short lighting: Portrait lighting technique that illuminates the side of the subject’s face that is facing away from the camera. See also broad lighting.

skylight filter: Weak, slightly red filter often used in landscape photography and to protect the front element of the lens.

slave: Remote receiver or remotely triggered flash.

SLR: Single-lens reflex camera

snoot: Tube-shaped light shaping tool that concentrates the light emitted by a flash.

Speedlight: Nikon registered trademark used to describe its system flash units. See also system flash.

Speedlite: Canon registered trademark used to describe its system flash units. See also system flash.

spigot: Standard brass adapter bolt for various light stands and adapters.

spotlight: Concentrated circular main or accent light.

strip light: Long, slim softbox.

strobe mode: Also known as stroboscopic mode. Flash mode that emits a sequence of extremely short flashes, producing an effect similar to that in many discotheques.

strobist: Term coined and registered by David Hobby. Describes users of off-camera system flash.

Sunbouncer: Brand name for large, square reflectors manufactured by California Sunbounce.

SuperSync: See pseudo-HSS

sync socket: See PC socket.

sync speed: The shortest exposure time in which a camera’s focal plane shutter is completely open and can be used to capture flash light. At shorter exposure times, the shutter curtains chase each other across the frame and expose only a moving strip of light across the sensor, making flash exposures with standard techniques impossible.

system flash: Battery-powered accessory flash that is mounted on a camera’s hot shoe. Smaller, lighter, and faster than studio flash, but not as powerful. Often includes built-in sensors and smart technology called TTL. See also hot shoe; TTL.

tethered shooting: Technology that connects a digital camera wirelessly or via cable to a computer, enabling real-time remote viewing of the image and the effects of adjustments to shooting parameters.

tilt/shift lens: A lens with an adjustable optical axis that is used to shift the plane of focus. See also Scheimpflug principle.

Trans-Lum: Flexible, semitransparent diffuser material that is available in sheets and rolls.

TTL: Through-the-lens metering. TTL flash metering uses a preflash to measure subject distance and brightness and uses the returned signal (received through the lens) to calculate optimum flash exposure parameters. Called E-TTL by Canon and i-TTL by Nikon.

umbrella: Light modifier built like a conventional umbrella, usually translucent (used as a diffuser) or reflective (used as a reflector).

UV filter: Ultraviolet filter

variable ND filter: Steplessly variable neutral density filter constructed of two polarizer filters that rotate. See also neutral density filter.

watt-second: SI unit of energy, same as joule.

Ws: See watt-second.

X-sync: Prescribed exposure time for use with xenon flash. See also sync speed.

zebras: Slang for overexposure warning. See also overexposure warning.